Richmond soldier laid to rest

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BRUNSWICK (AP) – Hundreds of mourners filled St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Saturday for the funeral of a 48-year-old Maine Army National Guard member from Richmond who was killed two weeks ago by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Friends, family and fellow members of the Guard paid last respects to Staff Sgt. Dale James Kelly Jr., a Bath Iron Works employee and father of three who was deployed with B Company, 3rd Battalion of the 172nd Infantry.

“If I had to characterize Dale’s life in one word, it would be excellence,” said the Guard’s top officer, Maj. Gen. Bill Libby, who praised Kelly’s service in Guard units in Rhode Island and Maine.

Members of the church recalled how Kelly led a mission to Jamaica in August 2003 to help build a community center and wound up drawing on his skills as a medic to treat the ailments of local children.

Pat McCabe, the other co-leader on the trip, read a letter Kelly had written about the experience.

“All the children had infections on their feet and legs, one child on his back. I don’t know how many children I treated, but it seemed like hundreds at the time. In reality, about 20 to 25,” the letter read.

Gov. John Baldacci and all four members of Maine’s congressional delegation were among the dignitaries attending the nearly two-hour service. The governor had ordered flags in Maine lowered to half-staff on the day of the funeral.

The church was so crowded that scores of attendees had to listen to the service over a loudspeaker in an adjoining church hall while others stood outside.

More than 100 motorcyclists took part in a procession from a funeral home in Auburn prior to the service.

At the close, military pallbearers carried the flag-draped casket out of the church while the motorcyclists held flags and stood at attention.

Kelly’s body was then transported in a motorcade to Augusta for burial at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery with full military honors.

Kelly and another member of the Brewer-based Guard unit, Staff Sgt. David Veverka, 25, of Jamestown, Pa., died May 6 in the explosion that wounded a third Maine Guardsman, Spc. Christopher Fraser, 19, of Windsor.

The toll from the attack was the worst for a Maine Guard unit in Iraq since a suicide bomber in Mosul set off a blast in December 2004 that killed two members of the 133rd Engineer Battalion and injured 13 others.

Veverka, a senior at the University of Maine, was buried Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery.


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